Team Dillon was founded by double Olympian, World and European Champion, Michelle Dillon so we were thrilled to have a few moments with her to get some insight into her nutrition, and the advice she gives other professional athletes & Olympians.
After being forced into retirement through a back injury, Michelle set about coaching other pro athletes, and now oversees a team of 6 coaches and 50+ athletes.
So Michelle, what specific foods are important for a triathlete during training for a competition?
”They definitely need complex carbohydrate's like rice, bread, pasta, quinoa and potatoes as well as good high quality protein. I like fish as my first option whether it be salmon or white fish, second option would be organic chicken. Also occasionally we like to add in organic red meat to help with the iron levels but will also include lots of fresh vegetables with every meal”.
How does their diet change on the week/days leading up to the event? (Do they increase their calorie intake/carb load?)
”It really depends on the distance the athlete is training for, if it is a sprint race carb loading is not as crucial but you still need to have enough glycogen stores in the muscles. However the longer the distance then carb loading and calorie intake is more essential. This can make the athlete feel heavy and water retentive but it is a sign the body is storing the glycogen in the muscles which is what is needed before the race”.
Do triathletes’ diets vary with their training plans? (I.e. on days of intense cardio vs strength and conditioning training? If so, how?)
”To be honest with you this is a bit of a grey area because we use 30g of protein as a source of recovery after our intense sessions and strength and conditioning sessions but not necessarily after a long ride or a long run. However the bodies needs can vary for each individual and we feel it's important to listen to our own bodies as to what it craves as not everyone's needs are the same, we work with individuals needs not everyone as a whole”.
What are triathletes fuelling strategies during a race?
”At Team Dillon Coaching we believe that fuelling strategies for races really is trial and error with salt intake and carb intake, everyone's gut is different and what it can handle in a race environment. We like our athlete's to test this through training to see what works best for them individually”.
What did you eat on the day you won the 2005 ITU Duathlon World Championships ?(or foods you typically ate on the day of the Olympics/other high profile competitions?)
”The Duathlon World Championships was a morning event so upon waking i had a coffee and two mega burn bars which are sports bars that are made in Australia. With the run first i find it hard to eat too much before a race but I fuelled during the race with sports gels, electrolyte drink and water and made sure I carb loaded the night before with potatoes, chicken and vegetables. That's typically a pre race meal for me but someone who is doing a long distance event that would change with more calories and carbs”.
What specific food or dishes would you suggest eating to enhance recovery?
”Definitely protein but we have just started using a great whole food nutrition supplement which has been supporting recovery and flooding the body with minerals and nutrients especially with my own training for the world sprint championships that i am feeling great benefits from already”.
What are your thoughts on protein/hydration supplements and energy gels?
”I am a big believer in hydrating because if you don't hydrate you cramp, our favourite hydration supplements are from Precision Hydration because it works so well and personally i have had a lot of success in training and racing with it. Energy gels are great you can get 100 calories in one shot along with sodium and caffeine when your racing and they are very easy to digest. As we spoke about protein earlier you take protein at the right times and use a good quality source of protein”.
Do many triathletes use such products?
”Yes they definitely do”.
For our triathlon enthusiast followers, what is your #1 tip for reaching your personal peak performance?
”Stay consistent with your training, don't look for shortcuts and have a good strength and conditioning program so you can get to the start line injury free and be in peak performance”.
If anyone has a race coming up that needs guidance or wants to simply find out more about Michelle’s coaching plans please visit their website for more information at www.teamdilloncoaching.com